just a couple of snaps of the swans and ducks at my town river.... I had a huge problem with a lot of them being underexposed ( badly ) and then realised that I had used spot metering against the swans....
The back of the swans neck is a over-exposed but the original was way-underexposed - ie I had to being out the detail in the beak etc - but even in the under-exposed version the neck detail is still blown out - basically this is because the beak/left side was of the neck was in deep shadow and the right hand side of the neck was in very bright light.
The only way for me to avoid this would have been to stand in the middle of the river and then ask the swan to move sideways on to me
I almost always -- in most sunny conditions -- underexpose the shot by about 1/3 EV. Just one click on the command dial (my custom setting). It is far easier to lighten it up a bit in Photoshop -- than fix an overexposure. Always go for the best exposure -- but with digital I always err on the side of under.
I use spot metering A LOT on my D1. It is a personal thing. I do switch between spot, meter, and center weighted -- depending on what I am doing. Looking at your compositions I probably would have used center weighted on the swan and maybe matrix on the duck. Then again – I like spot a lot because I can get an accurate reading off something very specific. You have to really think about your composition and how other parts of the frame will expose when using spot. But I like it – because I enjoy that intellectual challenge in my art. Did you spot meter the swan’s head? IF you tried that then I’d bet it would have exposed properly for the head. I am guessing your “spot” may have hit the background instead and overexposed for that darker background – hence the swan’s overexposed neck. Just a thought…..
I don't think the problem with having part of the picture in bright sun and part in shade only affect the D100 exposure. Most time how to "correct" this problem is to take a picture exposed for the shadow areas, take another picture exposed for the sunny area and sandwich the two pictures in post process (digital or analog.) This will be hard to do with moving subjects such as animals. However, with the D100 or any of the Nikon DSLR is not that hard to achive. If you take the picture in RAW (NEF) mode, you may be able to "expose" for the proper area in post processing by changing the exposure and then bring "both" pictures into Photoshop, or other tool, and layer the two images. I've done that a few times and it works well.
As you say, harder with animals or moving objects. I had a lot of swan shots where it has correctly exposed for the highlights ( there was detail there ) but the rest of the swan was so badly under-exposed that it was not even possible to rescue it in NC or photoshop. When increasing the exposure to bring out the detail you could see it was missing detail, muddy looking etc. So I prefer the shot I got.
In essence the only way to have got this shot would have been to take the two pictures - but the swan told me it was late for a date with a another swan and had to dash